Orthodontics and Sleeping Problems

Orthodontics and Sleeping Problems

Besides eating and drinking water, sleeping is one of the most critical functions that humans need to function healthily. A human cannot go without sleep for long periods. Many people try to focus on getting a specific number of hours of sleep. What most do not realize is that it is not the hours you put in that matters; it is the quality of the sleep that truly has a significant impact. Most of the time, sleep problems lead to poor quality sleep than a total lack of sleep. 

Children who get inadequate sleep may struggle with poor behavior and schoolwork. Sadly, this can lead to an incorrect diagnosis of a learning disability or behavior-related conditions like ADHD. Over time, if disrupted or lack of sleep is not handled, it can lead to chronic health problems like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, a stroke, or diabetes. 

People think that orthodontia is just used for improving smiles and dental health. Little do most people know, early visits to your orthodontist could help you to sleep better as time goes on. Believe it or not, orthodontics for young children allows doctors to see and diagnose dental problems that can contribute to pediatric sleep apnea. Also, braces can help fix mouth breathing. 

What are common sleeping issues? 

Sleep apnea is a relatively common medical condition that causes cessation of breathing during the night. It has the potential to create ongoing health problems like hypertension and chronic fatigue. Children with sleep apnea have symptoms like loud snoring, noisy breathing, and pauses in their breathing while they are asleep. Parents should look out for restless sleep, odd sleeping positions, and mouth breathing. 

Mouth breathing is a common issue that many people have — breathing through your mouth rather than your nose can stem from a few different oral health issues. If you are continuously sleeping with your mouth open at night, your teeth are being exposed to air rather than your saliva all night. A dry mouth can lead to a higher risk of cavities because bacteria are not being washed from the mouth. Also, from mouth breathing can come chronic bad breath; the soft tissue in your mouth becomes dry, leading to red and inflamed gums. Other difficulties can happen when mouth breathing prevents oxygen flow to your lungs and causes you to wake throughout the night.  

Sleep bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is a common issue that can be caused by stress, improper positioning of teeth, fatigue, snoring, and sleep apnea. Clenching or grinding your teeth and jaw all night will more likely lead to you suffering from a sleep disorder. Continuous teeth grinding can cause damage to your teeth, jaw pain, and headaches or earaches. 

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is when the joint that connects the jaw to your skull and allows you to eat and speak has pain or limited range of movement. It could also be a reason why people have an uneven bite. Symptoms of this disorder include an aching pain in the front of an ear, locked jaw, clicking noises when opening the mouth or chewing. Teeth grinding can potentially lead to TMD, so it is essential to see an orthodontist and figure out just what is going on. 

Can orthodontics help stop sleep apnea?

Orthodontics may be an effective treatment for sleep apnea if the cause of the apnea is orthodontics related. Some causes of apnea include obesity, tumor growth, loss of muscle tone in the throat, enlarged tonsils, down syndrome, and orthodontics issues like a significant overbite or improper jaw alignment. Sleep apnea is typically treated by using a CPAP machine. This machine is worn at night and pushes air through your throat while you sleep. The airflow is continuous to prevent the airway from collapsing. When there is an orthodontic related cause, braces can be beneficial in helping the situation. 

Braces and their sleep benefits

Braces not only give the benefit of having a beautiful straight smile and an aligned jaw; they can also help get you better airflow and a better night’s rest. If sleep is being prevented because of an overbite or underbite, braces can help to gradually move teeth and reduce sleep apnea as teeth are corrected. Eventually, the bite will become normal, and the apnea will go away. If you or your child suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, you know that it can be scary. Obstructive sleep apnea means that there is a physical blockage of the airway. If your jaw is not aligned correctly, it can potentially lead to the mouth tissues blocking the airway. If your child uses their mouth to breathe throughout the night, it could be because they are not able to properly close their lips entirely. This is due to the position of their jaw, an off bite, or protruding teeth. 

Helping bruxism and TMD

Grinding your teeth at night can eventually lead to damage to your teeth. Orthodontics can come and save the day by having you wear a retainer or a mouthguard at night. If you grind your teeth due to improper bite, braces will eventually straighten your teeth, and a guard will protect your teeth over the braces process. 

A mouthguard can also help to improve TMD, by allowing your jaw to not be so tense while clenching. Instead of clenching your teeth, you can instead bite down on a mouthguard, which won’t strain your muscles at much. 

Rapid Maxillary Expander

As children grow, their baby teeth fall out, and the permanents come in, it is very common for a  child’s mouth to become crowded as new teeth start growing out. There is scientific evidence that has shown that maxillary expansion has benefits. A rapid maxillary expander is a dental device commonly used to increase the width of the maxilla or the upper jaw bone. Widening the upper jaw bone reduces dental crowding and can help correct dental crossbites. 

When the maxillary is expanded, it helps increase the nasal airway volume and decreases airway resistance in the nasal area. This makes nasal breathing much more comfortable and mouth breathing reduces. 

We hoped this blog helped shed light on specific sleeping problems. If you believe your child is experiencing sleeping problems and want to see if orthodontics can help to diagnose and solve the issues, please give us a call. If you would like to make an appointment with our Aurora Pediatric Dentist, you can make your child’s next appointment on our Epic Dentistry for Kids website.